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Ravens News 5/11: Punt return stability and more

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Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Analyzing the Ravens 2020 Schedule - Ken McKusick

Opponents coming off a bye (none: +7, -7 for each in excess of 1): There are 32 teams and 32 byes to be assigned. Each team should play exactly 1 team coming off a bye. It’s that simple and amazingly easy to schedule in that manner with the use of all divisional games following byes. For the first time in years, the Ravens have no games against teams coming off their byes. Without this offsetting factor, the Ravens would have one of the worst scheduling disadvantages in the league. With it, their schedule is only slightly more difficult than average. Despite the fact the Ravens are 2020 beneficiaries, I still don’t understand why the NFL has chosen not to address this specific scheduling inequity, when it’s relatively easy to do so (+7)?

The 15 Best Games to Look Forward to in the 2020 NFL Season - Conor Orr

CHIEFS AT RAVENS, Week 3 (Sept. 28), M&T Bank Stadium

We could pick a quarter of the Chiefs’ schedule given that they’ll be appointment viewing all season long, but this takes care of two converging storylines we’ll be watching closely. The evolution of the Ravens’ offense with Lamar Jackson will collide with the defending Super Bowl champions in a matchup that many believed would be the AFC title game in 2020. Their Week 3 game in 2019 was a joy to rewatch this offseason; nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, almost 60 first downs, a 23-point second quarter from the Chiefs. Expect us to be looking forward to Jackson-Mahomes for years to come.

50 Words or Less - John Eisenberg

Smart money is on Pernell McPhee staying healthy in 2020. With all the new blood on defense, he should be more of a rotational piece. He’ll also probably line up more on the edge now that Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe are inside. All of that helps.

Veteran inside linebacker Jake Ryan was looking at a wide-open depth chart when he agreed to terms with the Ravens before the draft. The additions of Queen and Harrison have changed his prospects, but if healthy, he could still have a role in 2020 as a depth piece and special-teamer.

Ranking 2020 NFL Draft classes by their college win shares in 2019 - Eric Eager

4. BALTIMORE RAVENS

People will understandably drag the Ravens for taking a linebacker and running back with their first two picks, but wide receivers James Proche (0.73 WAA) and Devin Duvernay (0.57) were great picks for them.

Did the Baltimore Ravens draft their new punt returner? - Aaron Kasinitz

While Proche’s decorated college career as a wide receiver helped convince Baltimore to trade up and select him, the Ravens also aren’t ignoring his skills as a punt returner.

“He’s really instinctive, has really good vision,” Hortiz said. “Again, he catches it really secure, but then he gets upfield quick. He doesn’t waste time trying to go east and west. He gets upfield and he has that vision and balance where he can make guys miss along the way and can get positive yards.”

“I love punt return,” Proche said. “I really just love catching the ball. Anything that involves catching the ball and go make a play, that’s more what I do. As far as punt return goes, that’s something I feel comfortable [with], kind of being back there alone, having full control, judge the ball and showcase my abilities once I catch the ball.”

Recent rule changes have put more value in punt returning than kick-returning duties in the modern NFL. And the Ravens have struggled to find stability in that spot, shuffling through four punt returners over the past two years: Janarion Grant, Tim White, Cyrus Jones and Thomas.

“Some guys are kind of explosive, electric speed runners, where if they catch it, they’re an instant-threat score,” Hortiz said. “Other guys show the vision, the strength, the balance – and that’s probably more like James.”